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Marcus and Miguel in Marrakesh.

Dubai is so blessed to be just a few hours by plane away to many other interesting places in and around the Middle East. There is the fabled beauty of Jordan, the fertile lands of Tunisia, the ancient wonders in Egypt, the magic of Morocco, the rugged wonders of Oman and so much more. Even Dubai boasts of its own modern day paradise. I really wish to visit all of these countries before I migrate to somewhere cold.

For the meantime, I will post the recent travel of my old neighbors Marcus and Miguel to the colorful city of Marrakesh for three days. To set the record straight, these two are not lovers. Just two straight men who enjoy seeing the world together. Marcus has a girlfriend while Miguel’s status is unknown most of the time. So should I say he is single? In case one of you out there fancies him, I can easily let him know. πŸ˜‰

Marrakesh is a bustling city in the Northwest African nation of Morocco that speaks the language of love–Francais. Poetically known as the Red City, high walls of red earth fortified the city, and within it, house one of the busiest squares in Africa that offer exotic wares to electronic goods. And just like the old scene from Casablanca, snake charmers, hawkers, dancers and musicians still keep the city alive with its irresistible charm of the old world. It is a pity that these two boys did not show any of Morocco’s most prized jewels–its extremely stunning women. Tsktsk.

Emmanuelle Chriqui is a Canadian actress with a pure Moroccan background.

drunk-celebrities.blogspot.com

drunk-celebrities.blogspot.com

When one visits Morocco, it is also worthy to try the world-famous Moroccan bath. It is simply lying on a stone slab and letting someone else scrub your dirt away with some special Moroccan soap. Did I mention that you have to strip naked too? That is some experience. πŸ™‚

And who would have thought that visa is not required from Filipinos to enter Morocco. πŸ™‚ Two thumbs up to that.

Landing in Casablanca. Lightest traveler award goes to Marcus.

Landing in Casablanca. Lightest traveler award goes to Marcus.

The train connects Casablanca to Marrakesh.

This train connects Casablanca to Marrakesh.

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Making new friends along the way.

Making new friends along the way.

First day.

Accommodation for the first night. Skin disease from towels is free of charge. :)

Accommodation for the first night. Skin disease from towels is free of charge. πŸ™‚

A very challenging toilet + shower room.

A very challenging toilet + shower room.

The red wall of Marrakesh.

sensationalcolor.com

sensationalcolor.com

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One happy local man.

One happy local man.

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Might as well be known as cat city with their numerous feline pets who seem to love getting photographed.

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One old broad.

One old broad.

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Miguel.

Miguel.

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SECOND DAY. Marrakesh in many colors.

A much better place to stay than the first night's abode. Well, anything is better than that one.

A much better place to stay than the first night’s abode. Well, anything is better than that one.

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The souk at night.

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A sunny stroll around the city.

Welcome to the city of spices.

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Poor overworked donkey.

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Not ice cream mountain. These are painting tools.

Not ice cream mountain. These are painting tools.

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Lunch time.

Bon appΓ©tit!

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And this is how this entry shall start and end—with Miguel.

See you in your next adventure,boys!

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A beautiful island in the sun!

May 18-20, 2013.

Mahe Island, Seychelles.

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I was lucky enough to get seven days off in a row. Not many jobs in the world can make that possible quite easily, so at that particular moment, I was very happy with what I do for a living. It did not happen though without me having to give away five days in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires. But those were nothing compared to a mini vacation with my two most favorite boys in the whole wide world.

To follow are lotsssss of photos of this little paradise that is the island of Mahe…and as well as the three of us in several levels of…undress. Hihihi.

Seychelles is my boys first country in the continent of Africa so I was very excited for both of them. Note to Philippine passport holders: We don’t need a visa to visit here so go already. πŸ™‚

At Dubai International Airport Terminal 3

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Found my favorite South African restaurant chain, the Ocean Basket. If you have not tried this and you happen to find this somewhere, you gotta try it. Anything you order would make your tastebuds do back flips.

Seafood platter for my husband. This order was actually enough for the three of us.

Seafood platter for my husband. This order was actually enough for the three of us.

Look how huge the kid's platter was!

Look how huge the kid’s platter was!

Four hours later, the sun said hello from the window and it was time to land.

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Wake up, sleepy head. ❀

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Seychelles International Airport

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Our first choice, Constance Ephelia Hotel is not available until May 11. I have been there before and the place was huge and very relaxing, except for a few giant spiders that seemed to prosper in their trees. We hurriedly looked for other hotels from Agoda.com and decided to choose the hotels in the North. Our hotel, Coral Strand Smart Choice Hotel was just behind the mountain. It was a long drive from the airport and cabs would usually ask for 400 Seychellois rupees for one way. That is equivalent to about 50 USD. So we hired a car instead for three days, which cost us 1, 680 SCR plus gas. Not bad because we intended to drive around the island.

Our loyal guide. Unlike many city maps, this one stood the tests of water and several times of folding, unfolding and crumpling.

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I love these yellow light bulbs for the street lights. They added to the provincial vibe of Mahe.

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Personally, I was not impressed at all with Coral Strand. It looked so different in person than in the photos. I felt like I was back in my dormitory in the university. They would say that children below 12 years of age are free of charge but they automatically charged 50 euros per day for his breakfast. They cancelled the charge eventually after we talked to the manager.

Straight to the beach, of course!

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The pool was nothing fancy. It was always warm, which was nice, but it tasted different and painful to the eyes. Maybe it was recently treated or something.

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Our matching havaianas that I bought from my trip to Rio de Janeiro a few days before.

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The best thing about our hotel— its long stretch of white, shifting sands.

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A proud white mansion beside our hotel. This is a mansion for rent, usually rented out to moneyed Arabs. Behind this mansion are self-catering rooms for 50 euros a day.

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Snapshot by my little man.

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I warned you about this.

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Yugix’ favorite thing to draw–castles.

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The setting sun.

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Our comfy bed. I was about to sleep and husband was just starting work at the back.

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Look at my colorful visitor early in the morning.

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Hey there, good-looking.

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Two-lane road in the mountain. My husband complained why can’t they make the roads a little wider. I said that is probably how they want it. To work around their nature rather than make nature for them.

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A Hindu temple.

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Mahe bus station.

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Down from a mountain to another mountain.

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Vines hang like curtain across the road.

Vines hang like curtain across the road.

The Tea House. The restaurant was closed but we saw some workers packing the tea into the tea bags and into the boxes. Seychelles is famous for their tea, so if you are a tea-holic, this little place in the mountain would give you happiness.

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View from the tea house compound. This was our first lookout point.

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Further down, is the Port Glaud. This is the same way going to Constance Ephelia Resort.

Unlike the uninterrupted beaches of Beau Vallon, here at Port Glaud, huge boulders of rocks jut out from the water or are grouped together into a rugged, beautiful pile.

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You can look but won’t find anything in here.

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My embarassing attempt at panoramic shot.

My embarassing attempt at panoramic shot.

We turned right and we found a restaurant, just in time for our grumbling stomachs.

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Another panoramic fail.

Another panoramic fail.

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Hub’s paparazzi shot of me.

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I forgot what they call of this dish but it was “kinilaw” to me. It was raw fish with lemon and other spices.

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Ric’s octopus curry.

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Fortunately, outsiders can have free access at the beach in Constance Ephelia. This was so much better than the beach in Beau Vallon.

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Hey you, sexy!

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Mommy and daddy time.

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My cutie patootie in his snorkling mask.

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Meanwhile, back at Beau Vallon, we went out for dinner because we just assumed that it would cost us an arm to eat at the hotel.

This restaurant right across our hotel opens only at night. We saw that it was always full so we had to try it before our stay would end.

I assume the name is after the famous black pearls of Seychelles.

I assume the name is after the famous black pearls of Seychelles.

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Seafood pesto for me.

Seafood pesto for me.

Tuna for Ric which he enjoyed greatly.

Tuna for Ric which he devoured with great delight.

Burger and chips for the baby.

Burger and chips for the baby.

Seybrew, a local beer.

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Cheers!

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The restaurant owner put up a wall frame of different currencies left by its passing guests from different corners of the world. I saw a very interesting find.

A pound sterling from the United Stated of Jersey and old money of Italy. :)

A pund sterling from the United Stated of Jersey and old money of Italy. πŸ™‚

We had to leave a peso. Must be the first Philippine peso on that board.

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Breakfast buffet at Coral Strand was not bad at all. It was way better than my expectations. There were two coffee machines that made cappuccino and et cetera at a touch of a button so we always had pleasant mornings during our stay.

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Just a jump away from our breakfast table.

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CHECK OUT time.

We drove around to other attractions on our last day.

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A Catholic church.

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The flag of Seychelles.

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First stop–the botanical garden.

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The Guinness Book of World Records holder for being the world’s biggest nut (that sounds fun!), the Coco de Mer.

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That's the phallic seed of the coco de mer, as big as two human heads combined together.

That’s the phallic seed of the coco de mer, as big as two human heads combined together.

This liqueur right here is now sitting proudly on top of our alcohol stand. We bought it for around 30 USD.

photo from vacanceo.com

photo from vacanceo.com

The highlight for the Botanical Garden tour—the Seychelles giant tortoises. I do not think visitors are allowed to pet them here. But they let us in Constance Ephelia. These gentle giants are known to live for over a hundred years. The oldest known tortoise is over 180 years old.

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The tortoises in COnstance Ephelia Resort.

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This gentleman is over a hundred years old.

This gentleman is over a hundred years old.

My room in Constance Ephelia. This bathtub faces a ceiling to floor glass window.

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Spell T-I-R-E-D. It was a hot day.

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This swamp filled with lilies reminded me of those adventure books that I read when I was younger.

These purple ones are North African lilies.

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TREES!

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If I had known before, I would have searched for the Seychelles carnivorous pitcher plant. For now, I will settle for this.

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Too hot and too tired to walk to the bats. That’s about it.

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Drove back to Victoria, the capital of Seychelles. I have read somewhere that it is one of the smallest capitals in the world.

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This is Victoria’s clocktower, one of the attractions in the city. It is quite a humble model from London’s Little Ben. Seychelles was once a British colony, hence, the architectural influence.

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The Victoria Courthouse.

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We wanted to go to their National Museum of History but they were closed on that day.

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The time was one in the afternoon. We were hungry, hot and tired with no more accommodation to sleep in. We drove towards the airport and past it.

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We went further down to the South and were surprised to find more of paradise.

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We moved on to look for a place to stay. A room in this self-catering hostel charges 100$ per day. That’s the average cost of rent in this area.

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A few kilometers and another mountain later…the view worthy of myths and legends—Anse Royal.

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Spell H-E-A-V-E-N.

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It is landscape design at its finest. Only superior immortals could do that.

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The water was so clear and blue that it was hard to see where the water ends and the sky begins.

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In a true Asian traveler fashion, I had to take a selfie. πŸ™‚

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Stopping by for lunch. This is the restaurant with accommodation that has dolphins on its name. I find everything very expensive in Mahe, particularly food. Think about this, I paid more for my food here than in Monaco or Manhattan. Whether you are backpacking or not, expect to bleed serious cash. A small water bottle from a grocery store costs around 2 USD.

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Another curry for Ric. Seychellois cuisine seemed to have a lot of Indian influence.

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Found our lovely abode for six hours–the Au Fond de Mer. They are just a few feet away from one of Mahe’s best beaches and they let us pay for only half the price since we were staying only for a few hours. It is a self-catering villa that is run by a very warm couple, Solana and her husband. She was a genuinely kind lady without a doubt but when we were about to leave, she asked my husband if he has a sister who might like to work as a househelp in her apartments. That didn’t leave a nice ring to my ears for sure. Being a maid is a noble job, but we can do a lot better than have a worldwide reputation as a #1 source for househelps. Just saying!

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The room was very clean and the choice of furnitures were far from shabby. I am allergic to tacky furnitures so I was really happy that we found this place.

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Last chance to hit the beach. We read in reviews that this area is the best place to snorkel. Honestly, I would say the beach in Constance Ephelia is better.

Shout out to my girlfriend for too long, Madame Rose for giving this beach wraparound. :)

Shout out to my girlfriend for too long, Madame Rose for giving this beach wraparound. πŸ™‚

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Definitely one of the days that I wish would never end.

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Took this photo because of the sign/. πŸ™‚

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Spell K-N-A-C-K-E-R-E-D.

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To give my overall impression about Mahe, it is a very exotic destination. The locals are a beautiful mix of European, African, Arab and Indian origins. They speak English, French and African-French creole. They were warm people. When I waved to them, they waved back with a big smile and would not stop until you do. The roads to the mountains were especially narrow, so when our car fell into a canal, several locals dropped whatever they were doing and lifted the car back up into the road. They have one of the best beaches in the world with the unique landscape touches of the giant, smooth boulders of rocks. Most especially, I love the provincial feel that remained intact despite the boom of the tourism industry. If you are looking to relax, you have found the ideal place. But if you are thinking of relaxing under the tropical sun while sipping freshly squeezed pineapple juice mixed with your favorite rum for a small amount of money, then this is not the place that you should go. But you know what, all your money spent will be worth it.

πŸ™‚

Before I leave in peace, these are the beautiful faces of Mahe that I grabbed from the worldwideweb.

Seychelles Tourism Board flicker

Seychelles Tourism Board flicker

Seychelles-weekly.com

Seychelles-weekly.com

sey4

petcharyfiles.wordpress.com

petcharyfiles.wordpress.com

Halfie Seychellois from nomadiknation.com

Halfie Seychellois from nomadiknation.com

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Just another day at the beach.

FEBRUARY 15, 2013

FLIC EN FLAC BEACH, MAURITIUS.

I could not stop gushing during this layover. First of all, we stayed at this absolutely lovely hotel by the port view at Port Louis. It is called Labourdonnais and inspired by the glamorous era of the colonial times. We all got this big rooms with a balcony that opened up to an unlimited view of the ocean that splashed just below us. All of the bed linens were monogrammed. I haven’t had that for the longest time. In fact, almost everything in the room has that Labourdonnais logo, to the point of being tacky. But, well, I am liking it. Even the bathtub waterfaucet knob wears the logo.

It got the whole crew so excited that everyone came down for a drink and dinner. I swear the pianist had magical hands and just continuously played the classics while this nightingale of a woman sang French love songs. The pair were so perfect for each other that I did not mind my lackluster dinner. As long as they keep my wine served well-chilled, my evening is perfect until I doze off in my bed.

My sweet and cozy bed.

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These should be a standard to every hotel room with a bathtub!

These should be a standard to every hotel room with a bathtub!

From the top.

From the top.

These balconies reminded me of lamp posts-lit avenues.

These balconies reminded me of lamp posts-lit avenues.

From the bottom.

From the bottom.

I'm ready for my wine. :)

I’m ready for my wine. πŸ™‚

THE DAY AFTER

Waking up to this view.

Waking up to this view.

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The port of Port Louis. Port Louis is the capital of Mauritius.

The port of Port Louis. Port Louis is the capital of Mauritius.

The next day, I woke up early, especifically to have a long and slow breakfast buffet. The moment I smelled the ocean and coffee, I knew it was going to be a good day. My waiter spoke French, pulled my chair, unfolded my table napkin and even pressed my coffee in front of me. The amazing piano maestro was back too. I even saw a couple of birds flying in to the room and trying to get some crumbs from the bread and pastry table. It was like a fairytale, it was almost ridiculous. Hahah!

This is the bar, in the morning.

This is the bar, in the morning.

WE ARE READY FOR THE BEACH!

We rented a van through the concierge. We paid around 2,500 Mauritian rupees for the round trip.

We rented a van through the concierge. We paid around 2,500 Mauritian rupees for the round trip. From the waterfront, the Flic en Flac beach, which is a public beach, is roughly 40 minutes away by car.

The road trip has begun.

The road trip has begun.

HERE WE ARE. Flic en Flac is Dutch for flat and plain land. Aside from the crushed coral bits that hurt your feet in the water, Flic en Flac could be the best public beach that I had been to. The water was crystal clear, the beach was clean and the beach goers were free from the usual noisy crowd and annoying vendors that frequent public beaches.

The camp site at Flic en Flac.

The camp site at Flic en Flac.

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The guardians of the sea. These pine trees give more shade than coconut trees.

The guardians of the sea. These pine trees give more shade than coconut trees.

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Pigeons hunting for pine tree nuts.

Pigeons hunting for pine tree nuts.

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There was supposed to be a rainstorm, but I guess not. The heavens heard I was coming. :)

There was supposed to be a rainstorm, but I guess not. The heavens heard I was coming. πŸ™‚

That's my Czech girl to the left.

That’s my Czech girl to the left.

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My beach babe. This book had been around the world already.

My beach babe. This book had been around the world already. His final journey stopped in London.

There is never a better time for coconuts.

There is never a better time for coconuts.

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Sweat, sand and sun in my face. I could die happy.

Sweat, sand and sun in my face. I could die happy.

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My first time to fish!

My first time to fish!

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The first catch of the day.

The first catch of the day.

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Hitting the beach again with the most adorable local boy.

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40 MINUTES BEFORE LEAVING THIS PIECE OF PARADISE.

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Found a bird's nest above my head.

Found a bird’s nest above my head.

Happy campers, time to go.

Happy campers, time to go.

Back to the sugarcane fields. Sugarcane is Mauritius' major export.

Back to the sugarcane fields. Sugarcane is Mauritius’ major export.

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THEN I FOUND MY SON’S NAME ON A ROAD SIGN. Wherever I am, you are with me forever.

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WHEN IN MAURITIUS, LEAVING NOTHING BUT FOOTPRINTS. TAKE NOTHING BUT SUNBURN. πŸ˜‰

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12.12.12

The title is very much fitting for today. It is supposed to be a lucky date so I had to oblige my lazy fingers to post about something. Anything.

Well, today, I saw for the first time, a living woman, standing about five inches away from my face, sporting something peculiar that seemed to resemble a beard. Yes, a beard. And I thought it only belongs to man’s face. But there it was, on her chin, a two-inch long stubble. She lives in Entebbe, Uganda–the home where the world’s longest river, the Nile, starts its 40, 000 kilometer-journey across the earth. She works as a body searcher at the Entebbe airport. She actually explored too much of my body. But I don’t want to talk about that part. The more important thing is that Christmas is just a few days away. I hope that somebody will gift her with a razor. πŸ™‚

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…because it is not enough to breathe.

This day was perfect. I was in Mauritius on a boat with drinks that never end.

Important fact about Mauritius:

It is a French-speaking island nation in the Indian Ocean.

It is the only home of the extinct Dodo bird.

Its beaches are one of the best.

The rainbow-colored flag of Mauritius.

The rainbow-colored flag of Mauritius.

FUN STARTS HERE.

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CHEERS, my loves!

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HEAvEN in my fingertips.

January 14, 2012

Table Mountain, South Africa

This was just one of those days when I feel so blessed to have a job that rewards me to do something fun and exciting every time I sign off from work. I get to do many things for the first time. Not only that, I also get to do them at different places all around the world…for free! Or sometimes for a puny amount. With the whole world as my playground, the ideas are without limit.

Today was the day that I get to conquer the fabled Table Mountain. It took me four years and a half to finally do this. A trek to the top of the Table Mountain is a must-do when you go on a trip to South Africa, but with a country this beautiful, you cannot help to have pit stops along the way.

But before all that, I had to have a taste of Capetown, literally.

One beautiful afternoon with the Lion’s Head Mountain in the distance.

Getting ready for my dinner date. False lashes never run out of style.

Went out with a girl friend for dinner and had the best tasting seafood in my life. They had wide selection of seafood in a platter with a special Robata sauce which my Japanese girl friends don’t even know how to make. It tasted like a specially marinated soy sauce with honey and something else. The wine tasted like water but it didn’t matter. We left the restaurant very satisfied with cheeks more flushed than normal. And that is usually a good thing. πŸ˜€

Early birds catch the worm so we started early to do as much things as possible.

This was only a sneak peek of what to come.

Visitors can have the option of taking this long trek to the top of the mountain…

Or do what we did which was to take the cable ride both ways.

This rocky cliff gives the visitors a very solid welcome.

Adventure starts here.

These early birds were not early enough for the juciest worm–which was to have a hot breakfast and freshly-brewed coffee while waiting for the first rays of the sun to break out from behind the sweeping mountainous heights in the distance. If we came two hours earlier, we could have enjoyed an outdoor breakfast from this cozy, little hut.

As you get closer to the edge of these safety barricades from the rocky plunge below, the wonders of nature will make your heart stop for a moment.

Behold the new member of the 7 Wonders of the World–the Table Mountain in Capetown, South Africa. And no, Paris Hilton. South Africa is not a continent. That is the country’s name.

Table Mountain is a soaring plateau that overlooks the entire city of Capetown.Β  The rugged feature of its beauty is largely contributed by the sharp-edged cliffs that are as perilous as they are beautiful. Seated on the west side is the Lion’s Head and resting on the east side is the Devil’s Peak.

By the way, Table Mountain, is also the only landmark to give its name to a constellation in the sky, the Mensa or the Table. These group of stars are found below Orion.

The treacherous edges of Table Mountain which have claimed a few lives of the unwary.

Click on the photo to see bigger size.

This is a wonderful spot to view the city.

The Lion’s Head

The Devil’s Peak

The Signal Hill, the Olympic Stadium and the city of Cape town 3, 000 feet below.

Say a little prayer to the not so lucky adventurers.

Up ahead…

A trailer’s trail…

The best part of the trip–heaven in my fingertips, I could almost taste it!

While taking my photos over here, the wind suddenly snatched away my return trip ticket. If you wanted me to stay, you did not have to make me lose my ticket. You only have to say the word. πŸ™‚

PS: Thank you to my lovely French girl for taking this picture-perfect snaps.

From this viewing post…

This is probably the best spot to view Capetown.

You can see this.

Those are the Lion’s Head, The Stone Hill, The Olympic Stadium, The City Bowl and the Devil’s Peak from left to right.
*Click on the photo to see larger size.

My favorite photo of this trip. The hardly visible mountains from afar and the varying hues of blues in the background made this photo almost magical. It could be from the pages of Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter or some Chinese mythical story. Anywhere but the real world.

The rest of the photos.

So we said goodbye.

But not without doing this. πŸ™‚ Smile!

Capetown, thank you for the hospitality. We really appreciate it.

P. S. If you think Table Mountain is stunning during a fine day, wait until the clouds roll over it. A cloudy day could not get any better than this.

*I stole the photo from thestar.com

Not unless you have conquered the greatness of Mt. Pulag in the Philippines. It would not be beautiful. It would not be mind-blowing. It would be out of this world.

Mt. Pulag, Philippines
*I stole the photo from youtube

*Photo stolen from camzandthecity.com

And that would be another fantastic album in my travel tales.